Monday, April 27, 2009

Voice-Over Technique Tip of the Month - May 09

Voice-Over Technique Tip of the Month 

Take Care of Your Voice

As a voice-over artist, your voice is your instrument. It is important to care for your voice the way a concert violinist would care for his or her violin. For example, concert violinists wouldn't leave their violins out in the cold rain the day before a big concert. Nor would it be smart for voice-over artists to go outside without a raincoat in a downpour the day before an audition or a recording. Many factors can cause vocal problems, including but not limited to upper respiratory infections, inflammation caused by acid reflux, vocal misuse and abuse (such as screaming at a sporting event or concert) and vocal nodules or laryngeal growths. Because your voice is your tool and your source of income, it is important to know how to properly care for your voice and how to prevent problems that could keep you from recording in your best possible voice.

Here are some helpful hints from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Web site to ensure that your voice is in tip-top shape before the big day.

For more information, visit http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/takingcare.htm.

-Drink water—lots of it. Six to eight glasses a day is the recommended amount.

-Limit your intake of caffeinated or alcoholic beverages. These act as diuretics (substances that increase urination) and cause the body to lose water. This loss of fluids dries out the voice. Alcohol also irritates the mucous membranes lining the throat.

-Don't smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke. Cancer of the vocal folds is most often seen in smokers.

-Practice good breathing techniques when singing or talking. It is important to support your voice with deep breaths from the diaphragm, the muscle wall that separates your chest and abdomen. Singers and speakers are often taught exercises that improve breath control because speaking from the throat without providing supporting breath strains the voice.

-Avoid spicy foods. These can cause stomach acid to move into the throat or esophagus (reflux).

-Use a humidifier in your home. This is especially important in winter or in dry climates. The recommended humidity level is 30%.

-Try not to overuse your voice. Avoid speaking or singing when your voice is hoarse.

-Wash your hands often to prevent colds and flu.

-Include plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables in your diet. These foods contain vitamins A, E and C and help keep the mucus membranes lining the throat healthy.

-When on the phone, do not cradle the receiver between your head and shoulder for extended periods of time. This can cause muscle tension in the neck.

-Exercise regularly. Exercise increases stamina, tones muscles and improves posture and breathing, all of which are necessary for proper speaking.

-Avoid mouthwash containing alcohol or irritating chemicals, or limit your use to oral rinsing. Try a saltwater solution for gargling.

-Avoid using mouthwash to treat halitosis, or persistent bad breath. This condition may be triggered by low-grade infections in the nose, sinuses, tonsils, gums or lungs, or result from acid reflux, not treatable with mouthwash. If condition worsens, see your healthcare provider.

-Get plenty of rest. Physical fatigue negatively affects the voice, and the lower energy level of the voice will be evident when recording.

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